History will be made at the Alamodome on Saturday when the UIW Cardinals face off against the UTSA Roadrunners on the gridiron for the first time ever. It is such a massive game, we called on J.J. Perez of InsideRunnersSports.com and former UIW Cardinals radio play-by-play man Chris Reyes to help preview the match up.

UTSA

Since the Roadrunners are the ‘home’ team this weekend, lets start this conversation off with J.J., who discusses the Roadrunners 2018 season, his biggest concerns, and his prediction for the game.

  • PSN: Last season, UTSA did not have a great year as they finished with a 3-9 record overall. What about last season was most concerning to you and are those concerns still valid entering the 2019 season?

JJ: The woes of the offense were the main reason for the overall struggles in 2018. UTSA was at, or near the bottom, of every offensive statistical category last season. It’s believed that the Roadrunners have the talent to turn things around in 2019. There are reasons for optimism. It feels like UTSA knows who they want the offensive playmakers to be. Now it’s just a matter of going out and executing. In the offseason, UTSA fired their offensive coordinator from last season and promoted WRs Coach Jeff Kastl to OC. It will be up to Kastl to put all the pieces together and get the offense going. The good thing is that UTSA was so bad offensively in 2018, there’s no other direction but up.


  • Defensively, the Roadrunners lost Josiah Tauaefa. Who have you seen can fill his shoes or will this be a step back for UTSA’s pass rush?

This is another big question with the Roadrunners. Josiah Tauaefa was an All-American talent for UTSA. You just don’t replace that. And for the Roadrunners, the outlook is even more questionable but UTSA was extremely thin at the LB position to begin with. In the offseason, Safety Andrew Martel moved to LB. And UTSA brought is several transfers to add depth. It feels like the linebacker position will be okay. But where UTSA should excel is with the play of the defensive line. This may be UTSA’s deepest position. The Roadrunners can realistically play three-deep at each of their d-line positions. And while we won’t likely see a true standout on the d-line, the overall production from a pass-rush standpoint should increase.

  • What can you tell me about UTSA’s quarterback situation?

For the past two seasons UTSA’s quarterback situation has been in question. This offseason, four players competed for the starting role. In the end, former Clemens High School standout Frank Harris was named QB1. Harris was one of the more dynamic high school athletes that San Antonio has ever seen. But his senior season was cut short due to an ACL injury. Then in the spring following his freshman season, he tore his other ACL. So it’s been a long journey back to the football field for Harris. I don’t think no one really knows what to expect. In high school Harris was a true dual-threat QB. And this spring and fall, he’s made some impressive plays with both his feet and his arm. It may come down to health.

  • What are two of your biggest questions for the Roadrunners heading into the season?

While everyone will think the play of QB Frank Harris is the number one question headed into the season, I don’t think that’s as important the play of the offensive line and establishing the run game. In the last two seasons, UTSA has struggled to get any form of run game established. That has led to dismal endings of the last two seasons. UTSA has talent at the running back position. In fact UTSA’s group of backs, led by true freshman Sincere McCormick and sophomore Brenden Brady (two San Antonio products), may be the most talent ball-carries the Roadrunners have ever had. The offensive line returns four players who started in games last season. While that group struggled in 2018, they’ve appeared to turn the corner and look poised for a productive 2019 campaign.

Concern number two is the play of the secondary. There isn’t a lot of experience is UTSA’s defensive backfield. Carl Austin at Safety returns as one of the leaders but the rest of the group is comprised of new faces. UTSA believes they have talent in the secondary. So this concern may turn out to be one of the strengths of the team.

Scouting the Cardinals

  • UIW and UTSA are kicking off the season against each other for the first time ever. What are your thoughts on the match up. Not just for the schools but for the students and the city of San Antonio?

It’s a big day in San Antonio. It wasn’t that long ago that it felt like Division 1 football would never arrive in the Alamo City. Now we have two programs. And they’re playing each other. It’s a big deal and something that I hope the City of San Antonio embraces. With the way college football future schedules are structured, I’m not too sure when we’ll see another game between these two programs. So I hope attendance is good, the game is competitive, and the end it’s a showcase for both programs.

  • While UTSA did not have a great season in 2018, UIW did. They finished with a 6-5 record and a share of the conference championship. What concerns do you have about the Roadrunners playing the Cardinals?

It was almost like UIW flew under the radar last season. Now they are on everyone’s radar. I can tell you that UTSA has a fair amount of respect for the Cardinals. Offensively, just the style of play is concerning. UIW takes shots and chances, and when you play that way, sometimes you cash in. UTSA is going to have to be able to withstand some of those big game-changing type of plays and be ready to answer.

  • UIW had an outstanding effort on the defensive side of the ball in 2018. Do you think the Cardinals defense will be an issue for the Roadrunners to score against?

Turnovers often dictate who wins and loses a game. It’s no secret that this contributed to a lot of UIW’s success in 2018. I do think it is a concern for UTSA headed into this game. The most important offensive stat is scoring. And turnovers play a huge role in that. UTSA will need to not only be able move the ball vs UIW, but cash in on scoring opportunities while taking care of the ball.

  • Speaking of defense, how will the Roadrunners defense do against UIW quarterback Jon Copeland?

UTSA’s biggest question on defense is going to be the play of the secondary. Can UTSA’s defensive backfield contain the passing prowess of Jon Copeland and the UIW receiving corps? But sometimes, the best defense to a good passing team is a strong pass-rush. The matchup between UIW’s o-line and UTSA’s d-line is where this game will be won or lost. UTSA has to put pressure on Copeland. Otherwise, that will leave the secondary alone to defend against a pretty good QB.

  • Finally, predict who wins? UIW or UTSA?

UTSA is a slight favorite at home. I think the game will be close and competitive through out. In the end I think UTSA’s offense will break out of its shell. I predict a 10-14 point Roadrunner win in a contest that will be a lot closer than most think.

UIW

The Cardinals are coming into this game with something to prove. I sat down with Chris to get his thoughts on UIW’s historic 2018 run, his concerns for 2019 and his big prediction for the game.

  • PSN: Last season, UIW had their best season in program history, going from 1-10 in 2017 to a 6-5 record and a share of the Southland Conference championship in 2018. What were some of your standout moments from the season?

CR: 2018 of course was a fun year. Stand out moment was week 3 vs ACU. We had started the season 0-2 and were really looking forward to starting the conference season. When we went to Abilene and won 44-34. It’s the moment we began to realize that the team was different and we were going to be in a lot of ball games that year.

  • Heading into the 2019 season, UIW coach Eric Morris has said sustaining the success is always a challenge. Do you think the Cardinals are up for the challenge?

Personally I think they are. Coach Morris as a player tasted plenty of success from Coach Leach at Texas tech. In fact he was there for the 09 upset of UT, so he knows what it feel like to beat a No. 1 team of the nation. The reason I bring that up is because it will help coach relate to his players sustaining the high level of a program. Not to mention coach still has a relationship with his old coach Leach at Washington State.

  • There’s no denying Jon Copeland’s impact on the team. What are you looking for from him as he gets ready for his sophomore season?

I think to see even more confidence in coach’s offense this year around. Of course he had to recovery from an injury sustained vs UCA last year. But had a long break to rehab. He was an electric freshman last year, but look for a super sophomore season.

  • What are some of your concerns for UIW heading into the season?

Of course the off-season had a distraction. But when it comes to football season and football related reasons. Now coaches have film on Copeland and Morris’s offense, so the surprise element will be gone this year.

Scouting the Roadrunners

  • UIW and UTSA are kicking off the season against each other for the first time ever. What are your thoughts on the match up? Not just for the schools but for the students and the city of San Antonio?

It’s amazing. I remember attending school at UIW and thinking “man if we just got a chance at UTSA”. As someone who had plenty of UTSA friends as I’m sure a lot of students at UIW have, we just wanted to show our friends how our school was better despite being smaller.

  • While UIW had a great season in 2018, UTSA did not. The Roadrunners finished with a 3-9 record overall. What concerns do you have about UIW playing this Roadrunners team?

Well the fact that they are an FBS school it’s always a tough matchup for an FCS a school. But something else it will be a game UTSA doesn’t take lightly. A loss to UIW would dash expectations that fans would have on the team. The two are so close in proximity you can’t help, but jot this as a rivalry game.

  • The Roadrunners struggled on both sides of the ball last year but are looking to make up for that in 2019. Do you think UTSA’s defense, who allowed 31.2 points per game last season, will be a problem for the Cardinals? 

I do, simply because of the division difference. However to counter UIW does have Eric Morris on the sidelines. He has had all summer to scheme and form an offense predicated to attacking the runner defense.

  • Speaking of defense, the Cardinals lost some talent on that end of the field. Will there be growing pains early or do you expect the defense to pick up where it left off?

First game of the season, potentially one of the bigger games in cardinals history. Yes there will be some growing pains, but I expect them to settle in and perform at a high level.

  • Finally, predict who wins? UTSA or UIW?

I can actually do predict this time around since I won’t be broadcasting the games this year. It’ll be a close game throughout both of these schools mean a lot to San Antonio I think the birds win.. the red birds UIW Cardinals.

A big thank you to J.J. and Chris for taking time to answer our questions and help us preview this historic match. Be sure to follow J.J. on Twitter @theJJPerez and follow Chris on his new handle @ChrisReyesTX

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Stephen Michael 26, is a journalist, social media coordinator, host, and entertainment reporter. Michael graduated in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in Communication Arts and earned a Master's Degree in Digital Media in 2020 from the University of the Incarnate Word. He has worked covering the San Antonio Rampage, Stars, and San Antonio Futbol Club. He was the host of the Project Spurs Roundtable on NBC affiliate News 4 San Antonio from 2015-17.

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